AI's art collection in process to be transferred to culture ministry: DG

02:50 PM Oct 13, 2021 | PTI |

New Delhi: Air India’s invaluable art collection, which consists of over 2,000 artifacts, is in the process of being transferred to the Ministry of Culture and it is likely to be displayed at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) after the airline’s sale to the Tata group recently.
NGMA Director-General Adwaita Gadanayak told PTI on Wednesday: “We have been trying to procure the Air India artifacts for some time. So, it”s an ongoing process. Recently we had a meeting with officials of Air India.”


“Now, the file (of the transfer) is with the Ministry of Culture and hopefully we will be able to get them and display at NGMA,” he added.

The prized collection of Air India includes works of legendary artists like M F Husain, Anjolie Ela Menon, Jatin Das, S H Raza, V S Gaitonde and K A Ara.

Air India has been holding consultations with the Ministry of Culture since 2018 on the preservation, upkeep and display of these over 2,000 artifacts, some of which date back to the ninth century.

The art collection includes stone sculptures dating back to the ninth century, woodwork, decorative friezes and a collection of exquisite clocks, they said.


The clock collection includes a mantle clock in an ebonized break-arch wood case which is said to have been made in London in 1845.

On October 8, the government had announced that Talace Private Limited — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons — has beaten a consortium led by SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh by offering Rs 18,000 crore to win the bid to acquire debt-laden Air India.

According to Air India, several of the aforementioned paintings came under its possession when the artists were not even household names.

Artists had also readily availed of Air India’s unique option to barter flight tickets for their artworks.

Much of the credit for the huge art collection goes to the airline founder J R D Tata, who also served as its chairman. Thanks to his efforts, the artwork graced the office walls of Air India in cities like Paris, London, Rome, Geneva and Cairo, giving a peek into the rich Indian culture to the visiting people.

Officials had told PTI in 2018 that the upkeep and the preservation of the artworks had suffered because of the then uncertainty over the future of the airline.

In 2017, controversy stuck the carrier after an FIR was registered over the stealing of Jatin Das” painting the ”flying apsara” — allegedly by one of the former executive directors of Air India.

The painting, however, is in possession of the airline now.


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